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2015 Legislative Update: Exemptions to the Public Records and Sunshine Laws

During the 2015 term, the Florida Legislature passed 12 bills that create new exemptions to the state Public Records Law. It also re-enacted six exemptions to the Public Records Law and one exemption to the Sunshine Law. Generally, these exemptions relate to investigations and court records; identifying personal information, including emails; information that implicates safety concerns; or business secrets.

Three new exemptions exclude court records and records about government investigations from public disclosure.

Six new exemptions exclude personal identifying information, like home addresses and phone numbers, and certain types of emails.

Two new exemptions exclude identifying and other personal information for the safety of victims of certain crimes.

  • HB 467: Human Trafficking Victims. Exempts investigatory information that reveals the identity of victims of certain human trafficking offenses, as well as investigative information relating to criminal history records of victims that have been expunged.

  • HB 469: Residential Facilities Serving Victims of Sexual Exploitation. Exempts information about the location of safe houses and other facilities that serve victims of sexual exploitation held by a government agency, as well as information about the location of facilities serving victims of human trafficking involving commercial sexual activity held by an agency.

One new exemption excludes information and records pertaining to business practices.

  • SB 716: Animal Medical Records. Exempts certain animal medical records held by state college of veterinary medicine accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education.

During the 2015 term, the legislature also re-enacted seven exemptions – six exemptions to the Public Records Law and one exemption to the Sunshine Law.